Ubisoft find themselves in the headlines once again as angry gamers flock to the forums, complaining that their Far Cry 4 keys were mysteriously deactivated without any warning or explanation. It eventually transpired that all of these keys were bought from serial key resellers, companies that buy and sell on digital codes at significant discounts, with Ubisoft claiming that the keys in question were "fraudulently" obtained in the first place.
It's an interesting situation and there usually two sides to every story, but in this case, I feel that there are three. Publishers, illicit sources of serial keys and gamers stuck right in the crossfire. And everyone has something to learn here -- Ubisoft especially.
To be clear, the sale of Steam, Origin, PSN, Xbox Live and Uplay codes is legal and most sites comport themselves openly and legitimately. Everyone from Green Man Gaming to GamersGate, CDKeys and SimplyCDKeys. However, this is apparently a special case.
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Rayman Legends is now £9.99 (preowned) at GAME. Click here to buy one of the finest platformers in recent years >>
Probably one of, if not the best platformer of last-gen, Rayman Legends is a reminder that Ubisoft can do brilliantly crafted, mechanically perfect, riotously fun games when they want to. The new-gen version has few improvements on the last-gen equivalents, but don't let that stop you from picking it up, especially if you fancy a bit of couch multiplayer this Christmas.
Holy balls, we made it to 100 episodes! Yay!
Unfortunately, we were being so utterly professional that we forgot this podcast was in fact our century milestone. So there's no cake. Booo!
There is, however, a great big natter about the PlayStation Experience, Street Fighter exclusivity, Final Fantasy VII, the disappointment also know as The Crew, and winning weeks for Microsoft and Nintendo.
We'll get some cake in for the next one.
Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be some instances of strong language, dreadful impressions, and terrible puns.
The Crew launched worldwide earlier this week under intense scrutiny. It's remarkably ambitious yet full of potential pitfalls, a wonderful automotive adventure playground hamstrung by a worrisome storyline and server issues, and suffering under extra suspicion due to Ubisoft's recent performance. Here, though, we judge games based on their individual merits.
Having enjoyed a day's head-start, I posted a balanced and bittersweet impressions piece with a promise to return once I'd gleaned more hours of hands-on experience.
So I'm happy to report that things are looking rosier now... but it gets worse before it gets better. Let's rip the bandage off fast and hard.
Last time I suggested that The Crew's storyline is pointless and goes against the core appeal of the game. As an open-world racer crossed with an MMO, forcing everyone to play as the same character and introducing unnecessary extra grit to what ought to be a free-roaming fun factory makes no sense whatsoever.
My point still stands, but after a few more hours, I have to be brutally honest and tell you that the story and characters aren't just redundant. They're awful, and may actually break the game.Click here to read more...
There's a good reason as to why this review has taken a while to get here. Kyrat is massive, there are simply so many things to do in Far Cry 4. As soon as the first introductory mission had passed, I ignored the story completely, jumped into Little Nellie and took to the skies, cackling and running down honey badgers from the air. hunting things is actually the best way to start Far Cry 4, to be honest. The ammo pouches and loot sacks you have to begin with are rubbish, and so skinning the various species of creatures roaming the Asian forests and mountains provides the only way to expand your arsenal. And believe me, you'll want to expand you're arsenal.
The other day I went for a swim in a serene lake. A glimmer caught my eye and I swam below to find a cornucopia of rare treasures and a shiny new gun. Then a pair of massive Demon Fish decided they wanted to eat me for lunch, and I panicked and mashed some buttons and fled the scene with the barest sliver of life left, retiring to dry land and a hut where a demonic mask sang foreboding songs at me. Then some Royalist punks came by in a red truck, and I set them on fire and stole their things. Truck included.
The things you can do with fire in this game...
There are moments in Far Cry 4, often when you've climbed your way above the skyline -- Kyrat is a mountainous places, far more so than the islands of FC3, and you have a grappling hook to help you traverse the undulating landscape in this game -- when the game takes your breathe away. It's a game still tethered to last-gen, using a last-gen engine and assets, but the development team have done a phenomenal job of making Kyrat look stunning. This is a world that's simply captivating to be in and explore, littered as it is with geographical and architectural wonders, not to mention collectibles that reveal more about the place. Kyrat is a fictional country, but it has elements of Kashmir and Nepal about it, with the Himalayas to the north and the notion of a beautiful, mystical country torn apart by war.Click here to read the rest of our Far Cry 4 review >>
I love motion control mini-game collections at Christmas. WarioWare is always a personal favourite, though it must be stressed that such games should be played ahead of any gargantuan eating effort. Rabbids Invasion is an interactive representation of the TV show with over 20 episodes and 400 activities to choose from.
It's a game for the kids, but bear in mind that you're going to need the PS Camera to play the thing, which may explain why the game's plummeted in price. Cheers hermonhoop!
Didn't we already go over this with Dead Space two years back? Or Forza last year? Or Ass Creed a couple of weeks ago?
Another week, another example of Ubisoft trying to copy the EA of several years ago. I'm going to get around to the excellence of Far Cry 4 eventually, which will surely balance out some of the skewering we've been doing of Ubisoft over the past few weeks, but it's difficult to ignore things like sticking big, fat microtransactions in full-priced games.
Jon noted that The Crew is rocking a premium unlockable option for £39.99, dishing out 600,000 Crew Credits to parties willing to stump up enough cash to buy the game all over again (but not from Uplay). This isn't the first time that we've this from Ubisoft this winter -- Assassin's Creed: Unity, a game that somehow felt the need to have four different kinds of in-game currency, had an option to buy 20,000 Helix Credits for the low, low price of £64.99.
"Microtransactions are usually smoking-gun proof that a game's economy is designed specifically to delay, annoy and otherwise tempt you into reaching for the credit card, or that the company deliberately withheld content or cheat codes to sell post-launch. They kill immersion by reminding you that you're just consuming an incomplete product. They encourage developers to turn their games into operant conditioning chambers. The idea of full-priced games offering them is genuinely insane, if not insulting, when you think about it. And it's big news when a game avoids them. What an age we live in."
"Dual currency" and "microtransactions" are phrases that I absolutely loathe seeing when talking about full price games. They are, in essence, admissions of defeat: "We couldn't be arsed to create a meaningful way for you to earn this in-game, so here's a pay option because we're admitting that the game we made is unbalanced." The bottom line is that microtransactions exist in fully priced games simply because they can. There's simply no defence for them, it's just yet another example of game design being sabotaged in the name of profit.Click here to read more...
The Crew launches worldwide today, and seeing as we were let in a day early, I've written a detailed and balanced launch impressions piece for your perusal. However, now that the servers are live -- and holding up, at least for now -- we can also report on exactly how Ubisoft's new MMO driving game handles the dreaded spectre of microtransactions.
Like Assassin's Creed: Unity, The Crew contains a premium currency known as Crew Credits, which can be used to purchase cars that you haven't saved up enough money for by completing challenges, races and missions. You have the option to buy every vehicle with either your slowly-increasing pot of in-game currency or Crew Credits, the latter of which, of course, come at a real-world cost. You're able to buy them in five different packs, starting at 45,000 at £3.99 and ending with 600,000 for a whopping £39.99.
To put this in perspective, early-game cars can run you between 4500-65,000 Crew Credits.
Personally I hate to see microtransactions and premium currencies in full-priced games, as their inclusion is smoking gun proof that a game's economy is designed to delay, annoy or otherwise convince you to reach for the credit card. The fact that you can't ignore Crew Credits -- it's a dual currency, so the option is right there on the screen next to regular purchasing options and even represented on your player tag -- is also a real bugbear too. The sooner this fad dies out, the better, since you've already paid good money for the game and frankly shouldn't be constantly harangued to slap down a little (or a lot) extra.
We'll find out whether it's easy and affordable to play the game the way it should be intended as the days roll on - stay tuned for our launch day impressions later today and a full review at the end of the week.
Assassin's Creed: Unity targeted Xbox One as its lead platform, and if you're in the market for a cheap Cyber Monday deal, CDKeys are back again with their lowest price yet. The third time's the charm, because they're currently charging a very tasty £22.99 for one day only.
There's a difference between a good deal and a good game, and the difference couldn't be clearer here. Unity's notorious technical issues may be nowhere near as pronounced on Xbox One, but Matt describes it as a "corpulent, broken mess that plays neither to its own strengths nor to its fanbase" in our 5/10 review, even if there are "flashes of promise." It sure does look pretty though.
If you missed out on the chance to get it last month, here's another chance to get Far Cry 4 on current-gen consoles for under £35. This latest deal from CoolShop will save you around £4 compared to the next best offer elsewhere.
The Limited Edition comes with the Hurk's Redemption missions, which apparently provides an extra hour of gameplay and a harpoon gun. We'll be delivering our official verdict later this week, but considering how impressed Jon was with the way Far Cry 4 goes between the relatively-realistic open world sandbox and a spiritual dimension where you have a tiger at your command, it's almost safe to say that if you enjoyed its predecessor you'll find some fun in this instalment. Thanks to cosmic85 @ HUKD!
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is basically a new-gen, more murderous, stealthy, parkour-packed version of Sid Meier's Pirates! It's much better than Unity and it has unlockable sea shanties. If you use the 5% off Facebook voucher at CDKeys, you can get Black Flag on Xbox One for under eight quid this Black Friday weekend.
NB. Do bear in mind that this is a digital download code.
If you're feeling energetic then ASDA may have just sorted you out with a Black Friday stocking filler bargain. Just Dance 2015 is currently £15.00 on PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii and Wii U, saving you a few quid especially on the new-gen versions. Weirdly the PS3 version is holding out at £25 though.
I won't be reviewing Just Dance this year after seriously damaging my dignity the last few times, but you know what to expect by now. Namely solid, colourful, enjoyable dancing that makes good use of motion controls. Thanks to DID365 @ HUKD!
Yesterday, in the wake of 343 Industries' heartfelt apology for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Ubisoft's management finally owned up to the errors of Assassin's Creed: Unity.
Before we get onto ripping the message apart, though, let's look at what the publisher actually did do. The failings of Assassin's Creed: Unity are well-documented on this site, partially-hidden on launch day by a time-gated embargo that was so idiotic and publicly slammed that Ubisoft say they have revised their approach to reviews going forwards. People bought the game in the US at launch to find no reviews published, with many players angrily reporting a plethora of bugs and technical issues. In a statement from Ubi Montreal's CEO, Yannis Mallat, Ubisoft "sincerely apologized", suggesting that "the overall quality of [Assassin's Creed: Unity] was diminished by bugs and unexpected technical issues", and offering compensation for those who'd bought an Assassin's Creed: Unity Season Pass:
"To show our appreciation for your continued support, we’re making the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity Dead Kings DLC free for everyone," wrote Mallat. "For Season Pass holders, we will also offer the choice of one additional game from a selection of Ubisoft titles for free. More details on the offer for Season Pass holders can be found here: AC Unity FAQ."
Those free games are not to be sniffed at either, including Far Cry 4 (it's excellent), The Crew (hmmm), Assassin's Creed: Black Flag (much better than Unity), Watch Dogs (bloated, but still better than Unity), Rayman Legends (10/10), and Just Dance 2015 (it's Just Dance).
It's sort of the same move that EA pulled with SimCity, which sort of lends credence to my hypothesis that Ubisoft are actually just copying EA at this point. Things is, just like in the SimCity situation, this damage control is just a seemingly classy move that does nothing but paper over the cracks.Click here to read more...
Let’s begin with a bit of housekeeping – those of you that have bought or played Rocksmith 2014 Edition on PS3 or Xbox 360 will find an almost identical experience with the current-gen version. All the new modes and functionality used to improve the experience returns, as does the ability to access any song bought in previous titles as long as you stick with the same family of consoles (eg. PS3 to PS4). So, with that in mind, you can probably skip towards the end of the review for critique specific for the current-gen version.
For the rest of us, be it those uninitiated to Rocksmith or have remained with the previous version, Rocksmith 2014 continues to provide a way for budding guitarists to learn how to play and improve their skills. Tutorials cover the basics, including setup and posture, all the way to advanced techniques such as trills, hammering, and bending. Video demonstrations and repeatable interactive sections are well presented, easy to follow, and gives opportunity for intermediate players to perfect other skills before jumping into the track list proper. For someone who was always more of a Rhythm guitarist than a Lead, it meant I could venture into new areas of play without having to start over completely.
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Assassin's Creed: Unity targeted Xbox One as its lead platform, and if you're in the market for a cheap Xbox One deal, CDKeys are currently charging £24.95 for one day only. Saving you a tenner in the process and ticking another game off your Black Friday checklist.
Remember to 'like' them on Facebook for an extra 5% discount! Whether you like Assassin's Creed Unity will be another matter, though. The game's notorious technical issues may be nowhere near as pronounced on Xbox One, but Matt describes it as a "corpulent, broken mess that plays neither to its own strengths nor to its fanbase" in our 5/10 review, even if there are "flashes of promise." It sure does look pretty though.
Ubisoft have warned gamers against early reviews of The Crew. Let's reiterate that: Ubisoft are warning people against a product they fear might be rushed and not up to scratch.
Hello pot, meet kettle.
"While we fully anticipate that you might see some reviews immediately at launch — largely built around the preview sessions we facilitated during the past months or the limited content of the closed and open betas — they won’t be based on optimal conditions or reflect the finished game," Ubisoft have said.
"We sincerely hope everyone will take the time to customize their ride as they progress through all five regions, explore every corner of the map solo and with friends, dive into our competitive and cooperative mechanics, race to the end of the main campaign, choose a Faction and compete with your crew in Factions Wars, and so much more."
To be fair to Ubisoft, The Crew is a game heavily predicated on its connected world and its online experience. We've long said that it's an ambitious title, probably the most ambitious racing game of the year. It's the same sort of missive that Bungie sent out ahead of Destiny, suggesting that reviewers appraise the game across its first few weeks out in the public domain, and warning against early critical appraisals that would surely be ill-informed and ultimately unreliable.
It's okay to scoff, for a moment, at Ubisoft attempting to tell critics how do to their job in the wake of the shambles that was Assassin's Creed: Unity's release, but I kind of want to play devil's advocate here. See, in spite of the (perfectly justified) savaging I've given Ubisoft over the last few weeks, I actually sort of agree with them on this count.Click here to read more...
Ubisoft have announced that The Crew will be hitting open beta from tomorrow across PS4 and Xbox One. The beta will go live from 8AM BST/9AM CET tomorrow until 8AM BST/9AM CET on Friday.
If you've already played the closed beta, the open beta will be ready and available to play on the dashboard of either console. If you're yet to sample The Crew, however, simply search for the game on PSN/Xbox LIVE and download from there.
It looks like you may well need PS Plus/XBL Gold to run the beta, given that it's an online title.
GAME are currently offering Watch Dogs for under £15 pre-owned, and that includes Special Edition versions of the game too. Do note, though, that because of the nature of the used market, those Special Editions might have had the "special" codes exhausted by previous owners. As GAME themselves note onsite, "pre-owned version may not include additional content".
Still, when it's the same price as the standard version, it's probably worth a punt.
I have to say that although I found bits of its bloated content package to be superfluous, and in spite of its protagonist being dreadfully boring, I found Watch Dogs rather entertaining for a couple of weeks. You can click here to check out our Watch Dogs review. Thanks oUkTuRkEyIII!
Curiously, Amazon have not included any games within their Black Friday countdown deals, but you wouldn't think that's the case with this listing for South Park: The Stick of Truth. It's the cheapest we've seen the PC version fall to, and will save you around £4 over the next best offer elsewhere. Please note that this is for a download code to be redeemed on Steam.
As Brendan points out in our review, Obsidian Entertainment have managed to create an enjoyable and authentic South Park experience thanks to the involvement of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. With a combat system that is surprisingly deeper than it appears, it would seem that The Stick Of Truth has ended up being worth the wait - despite the hilarious censorship issues. Thanks to Dezzza123 @ HUKD!
I actually got a real kick out of Watch Dogs. It's got the most boring protagonist ever, and it's overstuffed with content, but you can pick and choose your way through that. Moreover, as boring as Aiden is, the stuff he can do is pretty cool, and there's nothing quite like sticking on the Blues Brothers soundtracks and tearing it up on the roads of Chicago.
You can click here to read our Watch Dogs review. Thanks oUkTuRkEyIII!